JIN-167 -- The Economy Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You, Sports Fans

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the week's business and technology news
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Issue No. 167
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Tokyo

CONTENTS

++ Viewpoint: The Economy Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You, Sports Fans
++ Noteworthy News
- Toppan Invests $25 Million More in E Ink
- Shinko Securities Plans Complete Switch to Web Phones
- Tepco to Launch Fiber-to-the-Home Company
++ Events

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++ VIEWPOINT: The Economy Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You, Sports Fans

With the Winter Olympics set to open later this week in Salt Lake
City, a question arises: Will Japan's sports fans fuel a mini-boom
in TV-related products in a year jampacked with major sporting
events?

The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries
Association (JEITA) certainly thinks so. The industry group, which
has dubbed 2002 the "Year of Sports," predicts a 45 percent
year-on-year rise in production of liquid crystal display (LCD)
televisions in 2002 because of strong demand fueled by the Olympics,
the World Cup and other sports events.

Maybe JEITA is on to something. LCD TVs are getting thinner, lighter
and more affordable, as are plasma display panel TVs. Daiwa
Securities says PDP screens will drop in price to around 10,000 yen
per inch sometime this year (a 32-inch PDP TV goes for about 500,000
yen these days). And the pictures -- a concern just a year or so ago
because of their lack of clarity -- are crisp and clear.

JEITA says demand for digital satellite broadcasting equipment will
also be strong in 2002 (NHK plans more than 450 hours of live
Hi-Vision transmissions from Salt Lake on general TV and BS-1, a
broadcast satellite channel). "Production of electronic components
and devices is foreseen advancing 2.1 percent, owing to the expected
recovery in the second half of 2002," the group says in a press
release. "As a result, overall domestic production by the Japanese
electronics industry is forecast to increase 0.7 percent in 2002 to
・22.3 trillion."

Don't count out broadband providers, either. They'll also be luring
sports fans with special programs like the one yesterday featuring a
live interview with player turned commentator Sergio Echigo on
Yahoo! Sports. This week the number of ADSL subscribers passed the
number of people who access the Internet through their cable TV
connection, but both numbers are growing.

So sports fans, do your economy a favor: Buy the biggest TV you can
afford and the fastest connection to the Net you can find and enjoy
the Games, the Cup and all the other events slated for 2002.

-- Bruce Rutledge

Related articles from Japan Inc:
"Thine Founder Out to Liberate Engineers" (February 2002)
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=723

Statistics on PDP TVs (subscriber protected, February 2002)
http://www.japaninc.net/pdf_stats/stats737.pdf

"Mission Impossible for Broadband Providers?" (June 2001)
http://www.japaninc.net/mag/comp/2001/06/jun01_mission3.html

"Broadband Wars" (December 2001)
http://www.japaninc.com/article.php?articleID=528

Release from JEITA:
http://www.jeita.or.jp/english/press/2002/0130/index.htm

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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines.)

** Toppan Invests $25 Million More in E Ink

Extract: Toppan Printing has invested $25 million in E Ink, a
company from Massachusetts that specializes in electronic ink and
paper technology. Toppan invested $5 million in E Ink last spring.
Hideaki Kawai, a Toppan director and the chief of corporate research
and development, says the latest investment will help speed up the
commercialization of ePaper and electronic ink technology developed
by the US firm. Toppan is the world leader in color filters.

Commentary: We've seen a PDA using E Ink's technology and it is
pretty impressive. You can see the print on the screen from various
angles, a la ink on paper. There's no glare and no impression when
you press the screen with a finger. Obviously, the applications for
this technology are countless, and with Toppan supplying the color
technology, ePaper products may be just around the corner.

E Ink mentioned in J@pan Inc article from Sept. 2001 issue:
http://www.japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=642

Press release from E Ink:
http://www.eink.com/news/releases/pr49.html

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** Shinko Securities Plans Complete Switch to Web Phones

Extract: Shinko Securities became the first brokerage in Japan to
announce that it would switch all its 8,000 or so phones at its
headquarters and its 90-plus branches to IP (Internet protocol)
phones by the end of fiscal 2002. The Japanese press calls this the
biggest switch to IP phones ever in the country. The brokerage says
the move to IP phones will help it cut costs. Cisco Systems of the
US will install the new phone system, which will run on AVVID
(Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data).

In related news, eAccess says it will launch an IP phone service on
February 14 that will charge a flat rate of 10 yen for three minutes
on all domestic calls. Usen also plans to launch its IP phone system
"Call Gate" on March 6.

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** Tepco to Launch Fiber-to-the-Home Company

Extract: The electric power giant Tepco is splitting off one of its
divisions into the Fiber Optic Network Company from March 1. The
company will have 80 employees and will focus on connecting homes to
the Internet through 100Mbps fiber connections.

Tepco gets into the convenience store business (from JIN 164):
http://www.japaninc.com/newsletters/index.html?list=jin&issue=164

release from Tepco (in Japanese):
http://www.tepco.co.jp/corp-com/press/2002013101-j.html

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STAFF
Written by Bruce Rutledge (bruce@japaninc.com) and Sumie Kawakami
(sumie@japaninc.com)

Edited by J Mark Lytle (mark@japaninc.com)

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